By PATRICK SLACK
The Pierz boys and girls cross country teams each return their top runners from a year ago as the Pioneers enter the 40th year in the program’s history.
Sophomore Maggie Gruber and senior Megan Hoheisel lead the Pierz girls team, which is coming off of a third place finish in the Central Minnesota Conference (CMC).
Gruber attained All-CMC honors last year with an eighth-place finish and led Pierz in seven of the team’s 10 meets.
Hoheisel finished in the top four for the Pioneers in all of the team’s competitions and has lettered every year since seventh grade.
Other returning letterwinners include senior Beth Broschofsky and sophomores Dana Hennen and Arre Langer.
Also expected to make an impact are eighth graders Emma Hoheisel, Lilly Guck and Taryn Becker.
Graduating from last year’s roster were Mariah Hoheisel, Tracy Wimmer and Abby Cyr.
Sophomore Kyle Becker returns as the top runner for the Pierz boys team.
Becker was the top placer for the Pioneers in half of last year’s races, earned All-CMC honors and had the team’s best time of the season at the section meet.
Senior Will Corbett was Pierz’ No. 3 runner a year ago.
Also returning as letterwinners are junior Mitchell Czech, sophomore Daniel Tautges and freshman Matt Janson. Senior Elias Schomer, new to the sport, is also expected to contribute.
Alex Julich was the lone graduate from last year’s team.
“Both teams will be very young and lack depth,” head coach Rey Zimney said, but “will have great team chemistry, good work ethic, with our goal to improve every day and mostly to have fun.”
The Holdingford boys and girls figure to be the favorites in the CMC, with St. Cloud Cathedral and the Annandale girls strong in the section, Zimney said.
Pierz opens the season at Maple Lake, Thursday.
The Pioneers’ first home meet is Sept. 17.